ITHACA, NY – To say Tara Nevins second solo release â€œWood and Stoneâ€ is catchy would be a grossÂ understatement. The Donna the Buffalo co-founder has long made bluegrass/roots-rock fans revel in harmonic vocals and catchy fiddle licks. But something magical happens in â€œWood and Stoneâ€ when producer/musician Larry Campbell and Tara Nevins got together: Synergy in the truest form. When 1 +1 = 3.
Stream: “You’re Still Driving That Truck”
The album kicks off the self-titled track with a signature catchy beat, lyrics memories of family, while fiddles provide a nice chorus backdrop. â€œAll I Know is that Wood and Stoneâ€™ll be the better part of me,â€ repeats Nevins. If only that was true for all of us. The self-titled track also offered up this sweet lyrical gem: â€œApples in the appletree for the sauce that grandma made Apples in the hand for the horse I’m shaking in the shade of its thoroughbred mane.â€Nevins fiddles seamlessly right into â€œAll I Ever Neededâ€. A love song atop a laptop dobros ease juxtaposed with a furious fiddle from Nevins.
If anyone has seen the movie â€œCrazy Heartâ€, youâ€™ll appreciate the track â€œYouâ€™re still-Driving That Truckâ€ that features more laptop guitar and great authentic Country-Western flavor with an opening stanza like:â€œYou’re still wearing that shirt, You’re driving that truck, You’re still looking at love, Like you’re gonna get hurt.â€ At points during the track, Taraâ€™s voice does seem muted slightly or almost like sheâ€™s holding back a tad in the studio. Granted, Nevins is not exactly renowned for letting out a heel-kicking Tyler yelps on the microphone and thatâ€™s what has always made her delivery so endearing. However, as with â€œYouâ€™re Still Driving That Truckâ€ A couple of the jovial,more upbeat tracks did have me yearning for her to cut loose just a bit more. That being said, if that is the sole criticism for this album full of soul, than Nevins and producer Campbell have less concerns and many awards awaiting their labor of love.
Stream “What Money Can’t Buy”
One of the simplest songs on the album was one of my favorites: â€œSnowbirdâ€. And oh what a pretty simple song it is. Laptop steel and brush drumming keep the track subdued with an Americana ballad only capable from Nevins and what sounds luke Campbell helping out on backup vocals. Upon multiple listens, itâ€™s a chorus my 6 year old daughter Norah has begun to sing as a duet with me.
The albumâ€™s seventh track â€œNothing Reallyâ€ is an oxymoron. Itâ€™s the first all-instrumental track of the album, yet it also provides a relief from lyrics and lets the listener simply enjoy jammed out fiddles and some pickin-and-a-grinnin from some banjos. Once again,as evidenced throughout the album, Campbellâ€™s production of the track order is a just one small testament to his brilliance behind the board.
Next comes â€œStars Fell on Alabamaâ€ a great love song composed by the late jazz great Frank Perkins about finding love in an Alabama night. A perfect fit for Nevins and a hit from the 2008 movie â€œ20 Years Afterâ€ and a perfect choice for Nevinsâ€™ voice and perfect placement in the album, prefacing the foot-stompin â€œDown south Bluesâ€ where Nevins really lets it all out.
The traditional ramblin standard had me â€œyee-hawingâ€ with my headphones on at apublic coffee house, much to the shagrin of the hipster baristas. My thigh-slappin wasshort lived as Nevins drops into â€œTennesee Riverâ€ where she once again slows it down again for this mostly straight-forward â€˜Nashville writing songâ€™ conjuring a reminiscent country singer trying to evoke some lyrical muse via some pastoral painting, real or not. What makes the track unique is the mostly modern instrumental backdrop versus other tracks onâ€Wood and Stone.â€ Clocking in at just over 5 mins, the albumâ€™s longest track showcases a tepid, darker aura with a distorted electric guitar and sonic baritone backdrop. I donâ€™t know for sure if Donna the Buffalo has ever covered Van Morrison but if not, they should. Having known Van Morrisonâ€™s â€œBeauty of Days Gone Byâ€ before Nevins tacklesit as the final album track, it was quickly evident Nevins, once again, found an artist(Van Morrison) whose styles, effortless delivery and soothing tones were a successful match. Thatâ€™s quite the compliment, which should be quickly heaped on Tara Nevins and â€œWood and Stoneâ€ producer Larry Campbell for creating a true gem for many generations to enjoy.
Between Campbellâ€™s multi-instrument producing prowess and Nevins pure, flawless delivery and song-writing, â€œWood and Stoneâ€ holds up under element, pressure or delivery. The result is a natural, forceless organic structure that like its namesakes:timber and slate; prospers from time spent together in its surroundings.
Visit http://taranevins.com/ for tour schedule, album informaton and even acomprehensive lyric listing from â€œWood and Stone.â€